20-year-old Jordanian national with expired visa  ‘trained with weapons to possibly commit an attack’ in Texas: Feds

News & Politics

A Jordanian man – who was living in Texas with an expired visa – had “trained with weapons to possibly commit an attack” and was researching how to construct bombs, according to federal authorities.

Sohaib Abuayyash was arrested in Houston on Oct. 19. The possible terror suspect has remained detained pending further criminal proceedings.

The 20-year-old Jordanian national was charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Abuayyash is accused of illegally purchasing a Canik model TP9 Elite SC 9 mm pistol.

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The Department of Justice stated, “According to the criminal complaint filed upon his arrest, Abuayyash entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, which expired in 2019, and has allegedly been in direct contact with others who share a radical mindset.”

Abuayyash applied for asylum in the United States after his nonimmigrant visa expired, according to the affidavit. He’s authorized to work in the U.S. until August 2025; however, he is not allowed to “possess or use firearms or ammunition.”

The indictment accused Abuayyash of “conducting physical training and has trained with weapons to possibly commit an attack.”

A law enforcement source reportedly told CNN that Abuayyash was “plotting to attack a Jewish gathering.”

Authorities did not disclose if there was a specific place or time for the alleged targeted attack.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Christina A. Bryan wrote on Oct. 24 that Abuayyash “has viewed specific and detailed content posted by radical organizations on the internet including lessons on how to construct bombs or explosive devices; and that Defendant has made statements to others that support the killing of individuals of particular religious faiths.”

“In his communications with another individual about martyrdom, the Defendant referenced an event in Houston for members of a particular religious group,” Judge Bryan said.

The FBI reportedly began investigating Abuayyash in August after agents conducted “open-source research.” Agents discovered video on social media of him firing multiple guns, according to a redacted probable cause affidavit filed on October 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

FBI Director Christopher Wray referenced Abuayyash in his opening statement to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday,

“The reality is that the terrorism threat has been elevated throughout 2023, but the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level,” Wray said.

“Here in the United States, our most immediate concern is that violent extremists — individuals or small groups — will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives,” Wray warned. “That includes not just homegrown violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization but also domestic violent extremists targeting Jewish or Muslim communities. We’ve seen that already with the individual we arrested last week in Houston who’d been studying how to build bombs and posted online about his support for killing Jews.”

If convicted, Abuayyash faces up to 15 years in federal prison as well as a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Abuayyash is scheduled to appear for his arraignment on Nov. 13.

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